Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nantahala Whitewater Rafting

For an experience like no other, a family trip whitewater rafting down the Nantahala River is fun had by all.

Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting on the Nantahala River

My family has a history of using Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting for our whitewater trips in the summer. There are multiple rafting facilities you can choose from to take you down the river, but we have always had a wonderful experience with this company.

During the summer, you can prepare the day of your rafting trip by dressing appropriately. A bathing suit, shorts, and a t-shirt are ideal, but if you opt out of wearing a t-shirt remember to lather up with some waterproof sunscreen because it is a long trip down the Nantahala. Tennis shoes or hard-bottom water shoes are a must, and the rafting facility will not let you travel down the river without them. Plus, you want to protest your feet from the jagged rocks.

Convenient dressing rooms and restrooms are on-site

Luckily, Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting has a dressing room for you to change into your rafting clothes and back out of them when you're soaked. If you forgot a dry shirt for the trip back, the facility has a gift shop with many rafting t-shirts to choose from for purchase.

Before you begin your trip, you are fitted for a life vest and given instructions for how to navigate the river safely. These are important if you are like my family and choose to venture the rapids without a guide. Guides are not necessary for rafting rapids of Class III and less.

Instructional map of the river rafting route

Once you've heard the do's-and-don'ts of river rafting, the guide will take the rafters 7-miles to the rafting load area. Since my family chooses to go without a guide, we were dropped off and were to load the raft ourselves.

Armed with my waterproof disposable camera, I snapped a shot of the boys loading the raft into the water.

Once the raft is in, you are ready to battle the rapids. To make navigating the river easier, it is best to have someone sit on the very back of the raft and act as the rudder. Most of the trip is calm water; however, there are some places where you do hit Class II rapids. Be alert and focused because one wrong move could land you on a huge rock.

Typical river view

The 7-mile adventure allows for a break from rafting before you reach the end. Luckily, halfway through the trip there is a few riverside restaurants (more like concessions) on the right. Many people pull the raft onto land and go grab a bite to eat and something to drink. Paddling the raft can take a lot out of you and even more if you do not opt for the self-bailing boat.

After the break, get back out on the water and head toward the washing machine at the end of the trip. The Washing Machine is a whirlpool Class III rapid at the end loading dock for Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting. Here you need to be ready to face the toughest rapid you've seen yet. While you are enjoy the wild ride, the rafting company is snapping photos of you for purchase when you get back to the gift shop.

Class III rapids at the Washing Machine

As you can see this trip is a lot of fun for everyone of all ages (though there is a minimum weight limit for travel down the Nantahala.) Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting has been nothing but wonderful the numerous times that I have used them for whitewater rafting. A trip down the Nantahala River should be had all!

Guest post by photographer Melanie Mishue.

More photography locations (like the crazy photos of the Nantahala River) from Melanie can be seen at her Photo Venue blog.